BELLA BELLARINE PENINSULA
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
Barwon Heads Caravan Park
Weather: 16 degrees at 12 noon; forecast: high winds, showers and cool temperatures!
Journey: Melbourne, Geelong, Barwon Heads
After a slow leisurely morning, we said goodbye to Freya and Tara at Annie's place and headed south/west to Geelong. Because it was Sunday, the traffic was fast moving and with the GPS turned on we reached Geelong in less than an hour; just a quick tour of the city on the bay and we decided to head straight to Barwon Heads.
The wind was wild but with no rain and glimpses of blue sky here and there, the day turned out to be happier than the forecasts.
A little bit of research had indicated that the caravan park at Barwon Heads was situated by the town with ocean and river front. We were not disappointed and all the holiday makers and surfers had left town and we had many sites to choose from at "low season" rates. The facilities were modern and very clean and we enjoyed using the well fitted camp kitchen to prepare meals. We paid for one night with the intention of exploring the Bellarine Peninsula to compare towns and camping sites. No free camping around this busy and well populated area.
The peninsula is about an hour from Melbourne, so a very popular holiday destination. The towns are no more than 10 kms apart and the coast is spectacular, with views to Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne’s major shipping channel and where we sailed through on the ferry back from Tasmania. The coast is a world famous surfing destination and the Rip Curl Surf Event for 2010 finished Saturday. Inland is lush farming country and you can see cattle, sheep and horses grazing and the odd vineyard producing well known wine labels.
Barwon Heads was the location of a famous ABC drama series in 2000 called “Sea Change” and the town was renamed Pearl Bay for TV; the jetty and some buildings are recognisable and the receptionist at the caravan park said that Sea Change put this little town on the map and real estate went through the roof. The town has nice feel to it and the main street has some great restaurants and the pub sits just before the bridge with fabulous views over where the Barwon River meets the ocean. The low bridge allowing access east onto the peninsula is being rebuilt for $40m, so there is quite a lot of construction noise.
After exploring Barwon Heads on foot and admiring the views and facilities, on Tuesday we drove to Point Lonsdale where you can see Port Phillip Heads where ships negotiate the marrow channel to Melbourne and yes on this windy and overcast day it did look treacherous with white caps everywhere and in all different directions! The walk at the top of the decaying cliffs led to the light house and the long white jetty. There were quite a few sight seers around this spot and people appeared as the sun did and disappeared with the showers.
We had a look at the camp ground here but kept our options open. Ocean Grove with its 10km beach and safe surfing; on this overcast day the beach presented grey and rough but we enjoyed watching a wind surfer tackle the ocean.
Further on Point Lonsdale was a majestic area, overlooking “The Rip” at the treacherous Port Phillip Heads.
The sun warmed up the early afternoon as we reached Queenscliff a town jutting out into Port Phillip Bay and from where you can get a ferry to the Mornington Peninsula- a bit too rough to be on the sea today, we said. We selected a sunny spot by the sea and watched ships go by as we ate lunch. The town has some lovely old buildings and we checked out the shops but only ended up buying an award winning curry pasty to add to our lunch goodies. Big spenders-NOT!
As we had not found a better camping ground as we toured around, we decided to return to Barwon Heads and wait out the weather before continuing our journey
The next day, our 6-7 km morning walk took us back to Ocean Grove along a wide bike/fire trail and we are still surprised to come across so many people; the track was easy and scenic and then, after breakfast we decided to do the walk along the Barwon Heads Bluff which was gorgeous with many views of the huge ocean and the Links Golf Course; we got as far as 13th Beach and the wind had dropped a bit, sections of blue sky peaked through and the rain kept away. The temperatures have certainly dropped with the end of the holiday season and daylight saving; apparently Melbourne received more than 100 days with temperatures over 20 degrees for summer but the unseasonably warm weather seems to have ended now.
We spent Wednesday exploring the peninsula further with the intention of staying at Portarlington but we felt the holiday park there was overpriced at $35 pn and not in a very attractive location so we continued our tour, stopping off at Indented Bay to make coffee and eat our sour dough baguette and lemon/passionfruit slice purchased from Annie’s Kitchen at Barwon Heads on our way this morning.
So it was back to Barwon Heads for another night and we feel we have seen enough of the area and will move on to The Great Ocean Road tomorrow.
We have been able to read and research our trip along the Great Ocean Road during our lazy and happy stay here; the weather has not been great during the day but cool enough to sleep under the doona by night. The rain has kept away but the colours are not at their best. The options of beach, coastal, town and river walks have kept us on our feet for short periods and we have bought some delicious delicacies to eat and cooked some fine dishes in the camp kitchen- we are the only users! Most of the caravans are empty; people pay $4000 per year to keep them on site and use them as weekenders and for school holidays! That is a pretty cheap “holiday house”!